I learned the importance of gut health over 30 years ago. It all started when I found a naturopathic doctor for my four year old daughter. She had been put on antibiotics for her ear infection by her pediatrician and developed chronic diarrhea. I realized this was not the solution. We were eating what we considered a healthy diet, but I discovered 100% whole wheat was not healthy for her. This is when I started reading books on nutrition and learning that the food we eat can inflame the intestines which could lead to infections and depress the immune system.
Over 20 years of being a naturopathic doctor it has become apparent to me that I needed to address the health of the gut through nutrition to help my patients heal any inflammation in the body, whether it is brain fog, joint pain, or GI distress. Any inflammation in the body comes from inflammation of the intestines lining, now labeled “Leaky Gut Syndrome.”
When the intestines’ lining becomes inflamed, the opening between the cells enlarge and allows proteins to cross into the blood which causes the immune system to attack them as enemies leading to inflammatory conditions from the brain to the tips of our toes. Over a period of time this inflammation can lead to chronic immune disorders. This should not be taken lightly because it could lead to liver overload and autoimmune conditions.
We need to remember that every drop of our blood goes through the liver, the cleansing (detoxifying) organ of our body. Everything absorbed across the intestinal barrier must pass through the liver before entering blood circulation. If this load is too great, the liver will not be able to safely do its job. When toxins get into our circulation, this sets the stage for autoimmune complications. The immune system will be unable to distinguish from the good or bad proteins and this could lead to food allergies, GI diseases, asthma, RA and more.
If the immune system is hyperactive the antibodies may begin to attack the cells of the body and trigger an autoimmune condition, like Celiac. The key to understanding gluten sensitivities is that it can involve any organ in the body and not just the small intestines. It helps to understand that food sensitivities are also a response from the immune system. If the body lacks the ability to digest food correctly and proteins are absorbed through the intestinal wall, then the immune system will go into action. The intestinal wall may be attacked and cause GI distress leading to leaky gut. However, this is not always the case. Some people do not show gastrointestinal trouble but could be experiencing a silent attack elsewhere in their body and can even lead to anxiety.
Any form of stress including food sensitivities, toxins (pesticides), antibiotics, or viruses may lead to decreased digestive function which puts the immune system into hyper mode. This could also lead to chronic fatigue. Clearly the presence of gut inflammation (Leaky Gut Syndrome), with its impact on the body systems, extracts a price from the health of the human body. I find that if I address the health of the gut with my patients it will help alleviate their primary illness, regardless of its’ nature. All stresses need be addressed to lead one to health and wellness.
So, to help my patients to wellness, I need to address the cause of their inflammation. Testing needs to be done to address any food allergies, sensitivities and/or intolerances. Whether it is IgG or IgE antibody reactions. A food sensitivity (IgG) is different than a food allergy (IgE), which can create anything from hives to anaphylactic shock. An inability to process/digest food (food sensitivity) can lead to inflammation and gut injury (leaky gut syndrome). However, sometimes the laboratory results do not show the whole picture. The patient may have noticed food intolerances that did not show up in the testing. Also, I like to know my patients’ blood type which leads me to what the food intolerances may be for the patient. An elimination diet may be the best way to discover a person’s reaction to these foods. Remember this is the beginning of decreasing the inflammation in the gut and discovering the food sensitivities and/or intolerances. These proteins are not the only substances (ex. lectins, etc.) that also need to be addressed if we wish to continue decreasing inflammation. The dietary intervention for inflammation is very individualized.
We also have to look at how our body is digesting food and what nutrients we are absorbing to continue on our path of wellness. So let’s begin your journey to wellness by seeking out a naturopathic doctor who looks at you as a unique individual and starts you on a healing path.
“It is more important to know what sort of person has a disease than to know what sort of disease a person has.” Hippocrates
Dr. Marie Mammone is a Connecticut Licensed and Board certified Naturopathic Doctor practicing at the Naturopathic and Acupuncture Health Center in Wethersfield, CT for over 17 years. She welcomes working with her clients to maintain and regain their health using her knowledge of a variety of therapies including clinical nutrition, botanicals, homeopathy, acupuncture and much more. For more information, please call today at (860) 529-1200 or read more at: http://www.NAHcenter.com.